Tidbits From Today

I reserved lots of Tasha Tudor books at the library today. I didn’t realize that she wrote so many Christmas books! Here is at least a partial list of her Christmas books:

The Dolls’ Christmas

Take Joy!

Becky’s Christmas

Corgiville Christmas

and I think there are even more.

I already got all of these books by some of our favorite authors from the library:

Anna reading one of the Christmas books

This was a surprise:

Here was Katie’s birthday present from God.

We were sitting in the living room. I was reading aloud to the older kids when all of a sudden Shawn yelled, “Rainbow!” I looked toward the window, but the blinds were closed. He saw it through the small upper windows that weren’t covered by the blinds.

We all ran to the back windows and patio doors and there we saw a whole rainbow spread all the way across the sky.

Shawn tried to get pictures of the whole thing, but my camera could only take pictures of little pieces of it at a time.

We got a video of it though so you can see that we really were able to see the WHOLE thing. What a nice gift from the Lord!

Garrett and Morgan were cooking again today. This time they fried bacon. Notice the protective eye wear. Notice the upside-down position of both of their goggles.

Morgan explained that he put his upside down so he could breathe. Garrett’s were upside down because Morgan put them on him without paying attention to whether they were right side up or not.

While I read to the kids Kelsey made these:

Emma followed her nose and found the chocolate cookies.

God’s Warriors

There Would Have Been Room

When we went to eat dinner with the lovely family with a ministry of taking strangers into their home, the Ilgenfritz’s, I noticed several nativities around the house. I mentioned them to Joyce, and she told me that she had more of them than she could count. People have given them to her from all over the world. She has several from Peru, the Philippines, Africa, and numerous other countries.  They are different shapes and sizes and made of various and sundry materials.  Many are very cleverly made and could easily be overlooked as a nativity.

Joyce plays a game with her grandchildren at Christmas time and has the nativities hidden throughout the house and they try to find them all. They keep count of how many they find, and then tell her the total. I think the one who finds the most gets a prize.

I went over to her house later and took pictures of many of her nativities.

Here are some of them:

The pictures here show at least 39 different nativities.  She has even more, but she didn’t set them all out this year.  One picture I took of a nativity inside a bottle came out blurry, so I didn’t post it.

I think it is significant that Joyce collects nativities.  I was thinking about this as I uploaded all of these pictures of the manger scene.  She and her husband Morgan have a ministry called the Lighthouse.  They have taken in 411 strangers and let them live with them.  This is a special ministry that not many would be able to do.  It’s certainly not my family’s calling!

They have taken in many unwed mothers and helped them learn how to take care of their babies.  They have given a home to many troubled youths who have accepted Jesus and turned their lives around because of the love shown to them by this special family.

If Mary and Joseph had knocked on the door of the Lighthouse, Morgan and Joyce would not have turned them away.  The story would have been a lot different, and I know that’s not how God planned it, but it struck me that they have taken in almost every stranger who ever knocked on their door.  I’m sure that they will have a magnificent reward in heaven.  They have lived out Matthew 25:35

“for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;”

We met them during a time when we were strangers with no where to go to experience the comforts of home or the joys of the Christmas season. They graciously invited us in. They fed us a warm, home-cooked meal. They made us feel special and loved. At a moment’s notice, they changed their plans and fitted us in, even though we are a large crowd and not easy to accommodate. They even helped us get there since we didn’t have a vehicle large enough to get everybody there. They didn’t act like they were the least bit inconvenienced by any of this. On the contrary, they acted like they were happy to have us there and happy to do all of these things for us.

Joyce has called to check up on us since that night. She brought soup over to us one night. It was delicious. The Lord had her make it and she didn’t even know why. Then she thought of us and called to see if we wanted it.

When we needed a ladder, she and Morgan brought one over for us to borrow. She has called just to see how I’m doing. She lets me know that she’s praying for us. She knows that I’ve been carrying a heavy load, and I can feel her compassion as she speaks to me and when she hugs me.

They are living out the gospel. What an example they have been to us and to so many others. May we learn from them and be obedient to our Father as they have been and store up riches in heaven. They emphasize that they are just normal people and that all Christians are supposed to live the way they do. They’re right. But how many of us do? We’re not all called to open our homes the way they do, but we are all called to obey whatever our Father tells us to do. Their love for people, and their willingness to put themselves out for other people is inspiring.

I’m so glad that God put them in our lives and provided a place for us to celebrate the birth of the Savior even though the only room we had was in the inn (the Days Inn).

Our story is still being written. And this chapter has been very difficult and fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. The Lord has been trying to teach us to trust Him no matter what. We will keep taking this test over and over again until we pass it.

The Lord is gracious and faithful. Many of our experiences parallel the things that happened in our Lord’s life as He walked the earth. He did it perfectly, without sin. We are far from perfect. But He is perfecting us and conforming us to His image.

I believe this.

I see Jesus in the Ilgenfritzes. I see their example of love and self-sacrifice for the sake of strangers. I admire them and want to be like them.

The nativities that they have collected symbolize their willingness to give a home to strangers in the name of Jesus. This is the way that they serve Jesus by serving the least of these.

I know in my heart that if Mary and Joseph had knocked at the door of the Lighthouse, there would have been a room for them.

Waiting Expectantly

Christmas is coming to the Douglas household! We’re not sure when. It’s kind of like waiting for the second coming of Jesus. We know He’s coming back soon, but we don’t know exactly when.

We see signs that our Christmas is coming. Our Christmas tree tells us that some gifts will soon be wrapped and placed under the tree. The kids are whispering and planning what to get for each other. We are ordering things online now that we have internet again and an address to have our stuff sent to.

The little ones are excited and asking when Christmas will be here. I can honestly tell them, “I don’t know when.” I’m waiting for everything to come together (gifts to be delivered) and for the conditions to be right for Christmas to happen. The snow has been a joyous sign! I don’t know when Christmas will be. But the kids know that Christmas will happen because Mommy said it would.

Isn’t that how we should live as Christians waiting for the return of Jesus? We know that He’s coming back. We just don’t know when. We see signs of His coming. He told us what some of those signs would be. We see that Israel miraculously became a nation again, fulfilling the prophecy that the fig tree would blossom.

Mark 13:28-37

28Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

29So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

30Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

31Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

32But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

33Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

He told us that He’s coming back, so we know that it’s going to happen.

The question is: Are we excited about His coming? Are we anxiously awaiting the return of our Bridegroom?

We should be more excited about it than children are about the coming of Christmas morning.

Examine yourself right now. Are you watching or sleeping?

No Room at the Inn

We have been discussing how our situation is similar to the first Christmas. It feels like God overlooked some details in planning our move to York, but we know that’s not true. We know that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and rulers in high places.

But I called Kenneth Copeland Ministries just now and had a prayer counselor pray with me. He prayed for wisdom from God to let us know where our house is. He said that we have the victory. And he said that we will have a good Christmas. It was very encouraging!

I read the following article on a pro-life site, Father Frank Pavone’s Blog, and it reminded me of the observations that we’ve been making about our situation.

No Room at the Inn

“She laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” The fact that there was no room for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the inn at Bethlehem on the first Christmas should make us wonder. The birth of Christ was planned by God from all eternity, and the details of His birth and life were announced by the prophets. How could God forget to make room for His only Son, the Child who owns the world, and every inch of room in the whole universe?

Obviously, God did this on purpose. There was no room in the inn because God wanted to show that His Son comes as a Savior, to reconcile a world that is at enmity with God. Today, He does not seek an inn; He seeks room in our own hearts and lives.

We are in much prayer today.

Thank you for praying with us.

P.S. Our friend and my dad are on the way here in a moving truck with our furniture and stuff. They’re coming from Ohio. Nelson has a sprained ankle and is walking with a crutch, so when my dad saw his condition, he decided to come with him and help him drive. So they will be here tonight and will stay at this hotel, too. Then we need a place to unload our stuff into tomorrow, with the Lord’s guidance and provision.

Christmas at the Inn

Here’s the Christmas tree that Kelsey, Anna and Patrick decorated. We heard that it has been knocked down and blown down since they did it, and the hotel clerk had to re-do it, but it’s a tough tree, and for all it has been through, it still looks pretty good.

Fiona was sad because we took her away from Snow Buddies to take this picture.

I don’t know why the pictures are blurry. Maybe it’s because I was shaking so much with excitement. 😉

This is our only Christmas decoration in our hotel room. I got it at Goodwill for 97 cents.

Our Christmas is turning out pretty similar to the first Christmas, except I’m not having a baby.